Searching for Truth on the Rehab Ward

I open my mouth and shape the words with care:

they have clear, firm edges and crisp endings;

they have an upright, no-nonsense demeanor;

they say what they mean, revealing nothing.


I open my mouth and the words emerge:

avoiding my lips; my tongue shuns them.

My heart, faint engine, fails to recognize them

though speech is a language I’ve almost relearned.


Sometimes I muddle the tenses (was it then? or is it now?)

I haven’t even started on the future:

trying hard to decide, I forget all the words completely

but then, if I shut my mouth, my heart remembers.



Judith Barrington is the author of four poetry collections. She suffers from Charcot Marie Tooth Disease and is still recovering from a subdural hematoma two years ago.

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